December 2022

AskAway in 2022

The AskAway community worked together this year to meet high demand, reach out to even more new users, and make improvements to a reliable and long-standing service. In 2022, AskAway:

  • Welcomed over 75 new service providers: New service providers bring unique skills and perspectives to AskAway. In 2022, they attended one of seven live online sessions offered throughout the year or completed self-guided training before the first shift.

  • Opened early in January, on-short notice: It feels like a long time ago, but back in January, AskAway opened one week early in response to partner library needs and to support students as several institutions moved to remote emergency learning. Libraries stepped up to build a well-staffed schedule for the first week.

  • Responded to over 30,000 incoming chats: Students, instructors, and researchers from across B.C. and the Yukon visited AskAway for convenient and immediate research help. In surveys, students said the support they received on AskAway helped them start their research, keep moving when they were stuck, and dig deeper into their search.

  • Increased AskAway staffing and administrative capacity: With one-time bridge funding from the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, AskAway hired student librarian Sydney Brogden to provide support to the Administrative Centre and additional staffing on the collaborative schedule. With this support, AskAway participating libraries have resumed pre-pandemic commitments while the service meets new, increased demand.

  • Launched proactive chat: After a successful pilot last year, AskAway officially launched proactive chat to reach more students at their point-of-need. Six libraries implemented this feature in 2022, bringing the total to nine including the original three pilot sites.

Additionally, local coordinators met twice this year to discuss software improvements and share updates, new tags – suggested by service providers – were introduced to track copyright, course reserves, and open education questions, and the Admin Centre met regularly with collaborative virtual reference colleagues across North America to nurture their community of practice.

AskAway Blog: 2022 Top Three

  1. Next Generation Chat Box for AskAway
  2. New and Improved FAQs
  3. Responding to Inappropriate and Prank Chats

AskAway blog topics from this year also include BCcampus' B.C. Open Collection, improvements to AskAway's Citation Best Practices, and a new staffing tool for evening and weekend service providers.

Kind and Efficient Service

"The response was timely, efficient, and direct, brilliant! Thank you." VCC Graduate Student

"I've used AskAway about four times now and the staff are so incredibly helpful and patient. I'm a mature, Indigenous student who has been out of school for over 40 years with little computer skills. I have always been treated with great kindness. A big thank you!!" Camosun College Student

"Thank you so much for your prompt support and help!" Okanagan College Student

"Thanks so much for making distance students' life easy with the efficient staff." UBC Distance Student

"The librarian who helped me was quick and provided the information I needed." Yukon University Student

"Thank you for having fun with me learning something new!" North Island College Student

On the Horizon

Setting Collaborative Priorities

In the spring, all participating libraries will be invited to an action planning session to confirm AskAway's values and set two-to-three-year collaborative service priorities. Initiated by the Advisory Committee, work is already underway to inform this session. An environmental scan survey of Canadian collaborative chat reference services is complete.

In January, members libraries will be invited to fill out the first of two surveys to 1) learn how libraries currently participate in AskAway and 2) the vision for the future. We look forward to hearing from your library!

Mark Your Calendar

NAVROC returns! The North American Virtual Reference Online Conference will be held February 21-23, 2023, over three half-days. This free conference is open to all and held online via Zoom.

In the past, many of the presentations have centred on topics relevant to AskAway and reference services more broadly. Mark your calendar now and stay tuned for registration and program information early in the new year.

Wishing you a joyful and relaxing winter break!

The AskAway Admin Centre will be closed over the holidays from December 21st, 2022 - January 3rd, 2023. See you in the new year!

AskAway is a service of the BC Electronic Library Network.

Questions? Contact the AskAway Administrative Centre.

Visit the AskAway Website